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'Remembrance' Still a Valuable Take on the Horrors of War

October 01, 1998

While the movie "Saving Private Ryan" shows war as a necessary evil, war is a festering boil on humanity in "War and Remembrance" by Herman Wouk, which covers the full spectrum of World War II. Aaron Jastrow, who appears to be the author's alter ego, sums up the novel's message when he says that war is about who will rule next, rather than about freedom, democracy and good conquering evil. He implies that Hitler is no more mad than the rest of the European nations, who colonized and exploited America 200 years earlier. Aaron later finds out the Americans aren't valiant John Waynes in shining armor, nor is his American citizenship any talisman that protects him from Auschwitz and the gas chambers. The Americans are fallible and unable to rescue their own.

"War and Remembrance" doesn't take sides. There are good Germans and bad Germans. The Jews are partly to blame for their own destruction, and the Americans fight just as dirty as the Germans do. The naval officer ordering his crew to open fire on some Japanese abandoning ship reminds the reader of the Babi Yar massacre (described in the prequel to this book, "The Winds of War").

In the end, there are shattered families picking up the pieces, rather than victory parades.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Monday October 5, 1998 Home Edition Life & Style Part E Page 4 View Desk 1 inches; 33 words Type of Material: Correction
Bookshelf--"Volk," a novel by Piers Anthony, can be purchased over the Internet from http://www.xlibris.com or http://www.pulpless.com. An incorrect address was included in a reader's review of the book in Thursday's Life & Style.

GRACE E. HAMPTON, Burbank

*

"Volk" by Piers Anthony--a novel only for sale over the Internet (www.xlibris.com and www.pulpness.com)--has three main characters. Through their eyes, we see the development of World War II. They are Quality, a Quaker who will test her pacifism in the war zone; Lane, Quality's fiance, who joined the war early with the RAF; and Ernst, a German student who befriends Lane before the war and later joins the German SS.

The writing is fluid and clear. Anthony's storytelling is superb. The Spanish Civil War is explored as well as World War II. There is pain and hope; love is lost and found; and ugly truths are learned. The idea that death camps for German officers were run by Americans at the end of the war may prove controversial but deserves complete attention (Anthony in his author's notes presents evidence to substantiate their existence).

Overall, this novel is outstanding. I learned a lot about World War II and the foolishness of war. I recommend "Volk" to anyone who enjoys historical novels.

MARISOL RAMOS, Torrance

*

My recent search for a statewide hiking book unearthed a gem, "Doin' California With Your Pooch." The author, Eileen Barish, should have called her book "Doin' California With or Without Your Pooch" because I don't have a dog and it's still the best outdoor California book I own. Organized alphabetically by city, this 700-page guide makes weekend trips easy to plan. A unique feature: It includes information on thousands of accommodations, from rustic cabins to posh resorts, eliminating the need to buy a separate lodging directory.

It's apparent that the author has done her homework because this is a great all-around travel book. Dozens of chapters, ranging from tide pooling tips to how to be a better hiker, are included. When you get the yen to work the bod or simply to get away from your little corner of the world, this is the book to take along, with or without a canine companion.

NORA SUE FRIEDMAN, Los Angeles

*

In "Buoy: Home at Sea" by Bruce Balan, Buoy provides a home at sea for his two friends, Gull and Seal. In a series of short tales, they experience life at sea: visitors like Shark, boats large and small, and the wonders of nature. The author's love of the sea is apparent in his thoughtful, uncomplicated prose. Children as well as adults should enjoy this short stay at sea, sharing the three friends' thoughts and experiences of everyday life in an environment that in many ways is not so different from ours on land. I recommend this as a great gift as well as an enjoyable and inspiring read at the beach.

ROBERT BLAKEY, Long Beach

*

Shaena Engle has assembled a remarkable group of inspirational stories. Her book "Silver Linings" chronicles the accomplishments of 17 individuals who reached beyond their physical limitations and personal tragedies to touch the lives of others in a positive manner.

These unique stories share a common theme, of individuals triumphing over the hands that life dealt them, to achieve life-affirming goals. Perhaps the most inspirational story is that of editor Engle herself, detailed in the book's introduction. Diagnosed at the young age of 16 with systemic lupus erythematosus, she often felt isolated and confused. She yearned for guidance from others facing life with chronic illness. On her long, arduous road to recovery, she motivated herself by setting meaningful goals--goals that inspired her to fight the illness and survive. Her goal for this book is to encourage readers facing similar predicaments.

I recommend this book to anybody, physical limitations notwithstanding, who ever has been told "you can't do that" and chose not to listen. This is an excellent read for the person who is determined to reach for the stars and who, when clouds get in the way, finds his or her own silver lining.

JAYNE FINK, San Dimas

* What's that book in your beach bag (or carry-on, or on your night table)? Is it any good? Send us a review! We're especially interested in hearing about fiction that you don't find reviewed in The Times, but feel free to send us your opinions of whatever it is you are reading. Keep the reviews short (200 words, tops) and send them (with your phone number) to Readers' Reviews, Life & Style, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, or fax them to (213) 237-0732. We'll print the most interesting ones every other week. Sorry, but no submissions can be returned.

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